My Elephant Carpaccio Workshop

in Delivery, Software Engineering

The team has recently been experimenting with slicing user stories to deliver value quicker. We’ve tried a few methods, but more recently I ran an adapted version of Elephant Carpaccio workshop to try and get us all thinking of the best way for us.

Initially I was going to run the Elephant Carpaccio workshop as this is an excellent example of how thinly slicing stories can help to ensure you are getting the most value as quickly as possible.

My Version

I wouldn't normally change a workshop that already works really well but we were constrained for time so I decided to make my own activity, using the original workshop as inspiration.

I created a scenario where I played a client who had a list of features that I wanted implementing on my site that sells widgets. Each of these larger features were made up smaller features that could be delivered incrementally. I then assigned a sales impact to not only the larger feature but to each of its constituent parts as well. The sales increases were not shared with the members of the workshop, especially that the first parts of any feature carried with the largest increase.

I split the group in to 3 teams and they had several "rounds" to decide what work they could feasibly achieve in a day. A "round" lasted for 3 minutes and then each team had to report back to me (the client). If I felt they were being a bit too ambitious about what work they could achieve in a day, I opened the decision up to the room.

After several rounds, we totaled the sales increases for each team, and the team who had made the biggest increase won.

The Workshop Rules

I’m a widget seller who sells 2 types of widgets. Type A and Type B. I want to improve my website to sell them more effectively. Below are the baseline expected sales figures:
- Widget A - 50 a day Widget B - 100 a day

The checkout is already in place and took 3 days to complete. Please use this a reference point for the size of implementing new features.
Below are the features that I want my site to have and impact I expect them to have on sales of widgets. The sales impacts are once a feature is fully implemented, benefits can be gained from partially implemented features.

  • Product information page - 30%
    • Text
    • Image
    • Reviews
    • Related products
  • Product gallery - 10%
    • carousel
    • quick view box
  • Banner carousel - 10%
    • Overlay text
    • Image cropper so I can put various images in
  • FAQ - 20%
    • Customers can ask questions
    • Customers can answer questions
  • Store Finder - 5%

How it went

It seemed that the session was pretty successful, with several of the team commenting that they learned something and it made them of how we can improve our own user stories. Hopefully that was true and the bag of cookies for the winning team hadn't just put them in a good mood.

Below is the spreadsheet I used to calculate who was earning the most value each day.


If I get the chance to run the session again I would definitely take their constructive feedback on board however. The 3 minute timer was too long, everyone was a lot more decisive than I thought they would be. Also, I calculated each teams scores on a spreadsheet on a projector so they could see how it was all being worked out. However, some of the more observant members of the session used this pick the features with the highest rewards. Lastly, the concept of selling two types of widgets, just over complicated the rules and didn't really help to illustrate any of the points so next time there will only be one product being sold.